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The patch shows an attacking bird with a sky that is
one-half stormy and the other half clear, but both halves depicting night
time. The symbolism of the menacing attacking bird was to represent an
attacking aircraft, and with the good and bad weather (both at night)
the representation is for the all-weather attack A-6 - the only aircraft/crew
which never needed to listen to a weather briefer.
Attack Squadron 185 was established on 1 December 1986
at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. The Nighthawks of VA-185 fly the all
weather attack mission utilizing the Grumman A-6E "Intruder".
VA-185 was the first new West Coast A-6 squadron in 13 years.
The period from December through September 1987 saw the
steady expansion of the number of aircraft and squadron personnel assigned.
It was announced in early September 1987 that the squadron would be permanently
forward deployed to Japan. The Nighthawks arrived at NAF Atsugi, Japan
on the 13th of September, and embarked on board USS MIDWAY (CV-41), six
days later. The Nighthawks spent the winter of '87 -'88 at sea, an essential
part of the USS MIDWAY/Carrier Air Wing Five team.
As a result of their superb performance since their establishment,
The Nighthawks were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation in
July of 1988. During the latter half of 1988, the squadron continued to
operate out of Atsugi, Japan with aircrews flying low-level missions in
Japan, Republic of Korea, and the Republic of the Philippines.
1989 was a banner year which saw The Nighthawks operating
in every corner of WESTPAC. The squadron participated in several exercises
in February and March, including a NOREX and Team Spirit '89. In May the
squadron sent a sizable detachment to Osan, Republic of Korea to use various
target ranges for competitive exercises. Throughout the year the squadron
competed in over 300 events, scoring "E's" (Excellent) in 223.
The remainder of the year found the squadron participating in various
joint exercises with the forces of other nations, as well as limited dual
Carrier Battle Group operations with the USS ENTERPRISE. After a successful
Indian Ocean Deployment during the latter half of the year, The Nighthawks
participated in Operation "Classic Resolve" in support of the
Philippine government against an attempted coup.
For their extraordinary efforts throughout 1989, The Nighthawks received every major award available to fleet squadrons including:
the 1989 Pacific Fleet Arieigh Burke Fleet Trophy, awarded annually by
the Chief of Naval Operations to the unit that has exhibited the greatest
improvement in combat readiness; the 1989 CINCPACFLT Golden Anchor Award,
presented annually to those Pacific Fleet commands which have demonstrated
exceptional effective unit effort to retain quality personnel in the Navy;
the prestigious Battle Efficiency "E" for Pacific Fleet Intruder
squadrons presented by Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific in recognition
of the squadron which demonstrated the highest level of sustained combat
readiness; and, the 1989 Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S"
Award, which recognized the professionalism and personal commitment to
safety displayed by all Nighthawks throughout the year. In addition, in
1989, VA-185 was awarded the Wade McClusky Award, emblematic of the best
attack squadron in the Navy.
The Nighthawks began 1990 with intensive participation
in Cope Thunder 90-4, a two week training exercise in the Republic of
the Philippines. In March, the squadron resumed routine carrier operations
in the South China Sea and Philippine operating area which culminated
with a well deserved port call in Hong Kong. The Nighthawks returned to
their home field of Atsugi, Japan in April and participated in the Medium
Attack Advanced Readiness Program (MAARP) at Osan, Korea in May.
The Nighthawks operated from the deck of the USS Midway
and led the first strikes into Iraq to start the Gulf War. The squadron
was disestablished in July 1991.
There have been a total of 3 Commanding Officers of The Knighthawks.
The first, CDR. W. Magnan, served from December 1986 to November 1988.
Second was CDR M. J. McCamish. The last was CDR. B. Satterwhite. He served
from June 1990 until July of 1991.